Skip to content

LOS - Chapter 2 - Impairment transitions

Released: 10 September 2015 Download PDF

2.1 Main findings

Adults with impairment at both waves

  • For all adults with an impairment at both waves, the number of impairments reported was relatively stable between Wave One and Wave Three.

  • Adults with impairment at both waves were more likely to have multiple impairments than a single impairment.

  • Adults aged 65 and over were more likely to report 3 or more impairments than those aged 16 to 64.

  • For adults with impairment at both waves there appears to be an association between age and reporting the following impairment types: mobility, dexterity, sight and hearing.

Offset and onset-acquired adults

  • Just over a third (35%) of adults who reported impairment at Wave One did not report impairment at Wave Three (offset rate).

  • Offset rates varied by age and impairment type, with working age individuals almost twice as likely to have offset from impairment as adults aged 65 and over.

  • Around 1 in 6 people (18%) who did not report any impairment at Wave One reported at least one impairment at Wave Three (onset-acquired rate).

  • Adults aged 65 and over were twice as likely to onset as adults aged 16 to 64.

  • Long-term pain had a high offset and onset rate, suggesting that adults’ experience of long-term pain can fluctuate.

Severity of impairment

  • Reported severity of impairment was different for those with impairment at both waves and those who acquired impairment (onset) at Wave Three.

  • For those with impairment at both waves impairment severity was similar across the 4 main impairment types: long-term pain, chronic health condition, mobility and dexterity - with approximately two-thirds reporting "moderate difficulty" for each impairment.

  • A lower percentage of adults who were onset-acquired reported "severe" difficulty and frequency as "always" than adults with impairment at both waves. This was true for the 4 main impairment types.

2.2 Aims of the chapter

This chapter looks at changes in impairment status and impairment types that occurred between Wave One and Wave Three. To simplify the analysis, the focus is on impairment status at Wave One and at Wave Three only. Wave One interviewing took place between June 2009 and March 2010. Adults were interviewed again approximately 3 and half years later between October 2012 and September 2014. The analysis reflects the changing nature of impairment status through time and the different impairment types across the 2 waves.

Diagram 2.1 shows the four analysis groups described in Chapter 1.

At Wave One and Wave Three, adults were classified as having impairment or not having impairment. Having impairment means that an adult reports at least 1 impairment. Adults were classified as having impairment at both waves if they had at least 1 impairment at Wave One and at Wave Three (group 1). However, impairment status can change or can remain stable over time. Some adults may report an impairment at Wave Three that was not reported at Wave One. This impairment may replace impairment at Wave One, or may be in addition to any impairments at Wave One.

In the same way, impairment may be present at Wave One, but no longer reported in Wave Three. For example, suppose that someone reported mobility and dexterity impairments at Wave One. If at Wave Three this person no longer reported the dexterity impairment (but still reported the mobility impairment), then he or she would experience an offset of dexterity impairment but still be classified as having an impairment at both waves.

Where impairment status has changed from Wave One to Wave Three this is known as "offset" and "onset" of impairment. Offset from impairment means that adults have changed from reporting at least 1 impairment at Wave One to no longer reporting impairment at Wave Three (group 2). Where adults did not have impairment at Wave One, but reported at least one impairment at Wave Three, their impairment status is known as "onset-acquired" (group 3). 

It is important to note that impairments are based on self-reporting and there are many reasons for onset and offset (for example, improvements in medication or carer assistance).

Finally, adults may not have reported an impairment at either Wave One or Wave Three (group 4).

Diagram 2.1: Summary of analysis groups for Wave Three report

Click on diagram to view a larger version.

2.3 Number of impairments reported by adults at Wave One and at Wave Three

Adults may have more than one impairment. This section looks at adults who reported an impairment type at both Wave One and Wave Three and considers the number of impairments they had. While adults must have reported having an impairment at both Wave One and Wave Three to be included in the analysis, they may have reported a different impairment type.  

As can be seen in Figure 2.1, the number of impairments reported by adults was relatively stable between Wave One and Wave Three. There was a slight decrease in the percentage of adults reporting 1 impairment for all adults, although this change was not statistically significant. For those aged 16 to 64, this was largely accounted for by an increase in the percentage of adults reporting 2 impairments. For those aged 65 and over, the increase was seen in the percentage of adults with 3 or more impairments.

As found in an earlier Life Opportunites Survey (LOS) report, adults who had an impairment were more likely to report having multiple impairments than a single impairment. Adults aged 65 and over were more likely than those aged 16 to 64 to report having 3 or more impairments, and less likely to report having only 1. 

These findings suggest that there is an increase in the number of impairments experienced as people age.

Figure 2.1: All adults with impairment at both waves: number of impairments reported at Wave One and Wave Three

Figure 2.1: All adults with impairment at both waves: number of impairments reported at Wave One and Wave Three
Source: Life Opportunities Survey - Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. All percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole number.

Download chart

Figure 2.2: Impairment at both waves: number of impairments reported at Wave One and Wave Three, working age adults (aged 16 to 64)

Figure 2.2: Impairment at both waves: number of impairments reported at Wave One and Wave Three, working age adults (aged 16 to 64)
Source: Life Opportunities Survey - Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. All percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole number.

Download chart

Figure 2.3: Impairment at both waves: number of impairments reported at Wave One and Wave Three, adults aged 65 and over

Figure 2.3: Impairment at both waves: number of impairments reported at Wave One and Wave Three, adults aged 65 and over
Source: Life Opportunities Survey - Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. All percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole number.

Download chart

2.4 Impairment types reported at Wave Three by adults with an impairment at both waves

Around two-thirds of adults who reported at least 1 impairment at Wave One had at least 1 impairment at Wave Three. Overall, 35% of adults no longer reported an impairment at Wave Three (Offset).

For adults with impairment at both waves, the most commonly-reported impairments for Wave One and Wave Three were long-term pain, chronic health condition1, mobility and dexterity (see Figure 2.4). This is regardless of age. There has been a noticeable increase at Wave Three in the percentage of adults reporting chronic health condition and mobility impairments. The addition of new categories to the chronic health condition may have influenced this result2. As the LOS has followed the survey population over 3 years these increases may reflect changes in impairment as individuals age. The adults reporting a particular impairment type at Wave One may not necessarily be the same group of adults reporting that impairment type at Wave Three.

Looking at impairments by age group (Figures 2.5 and 2.6) there is an increase at Wave Three in the percentage of adults aged 65 and over reporting memory, breathing, sight and hearing impairments.

For ease of comparison, Figure 2.7 shows the percentage of impairment types reported at Wave Three for working age adults and adults aged 65 and over. Some impairment types are more frequently reported by those aged 65 and over than working age adults. For example, a higher percentage of those aged 65 and over reported mobility, dexterity, sight and hearing impairments at Wave Three. These impairment types may generally be associated with ageing. Memory is also often thought to deteriorate with age, but Figure 2.7 shows no statistically significant difference between the percentage of working age adults and those aged 65 and over with memory impairment. However, it should be noted that adults in residential homes were excluded from the sample for LOS. If those requiring more help and support are receiving it in a residential home this will affect the results presented here.

Adults aged 16 to 64 were more likely than those aged 65 and over to have reported a mental health condition (21% and 5%) and a learning impairment (11% and 1%) at Wave Three. It may be that working age adults are more likely to be diagnosed with such conditions, or more likely to report these conditions when interviewed.

Figure 2.4: Impairment at both waves: impairment types reported at Wave One and Wave Three

Figure 2.4: Impairment at both waves: impairment types reported at Wave One and Wave Three
Source: Life Opportunities Survey - Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. All percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole number

Download chart

Figure 2.5: Impairment at both waves: impairment types reported at Wave One and Wave Three, working age adults (aged 16 to 64)

Figure 2.5: Impairment at both waves: impairment types reported at Wave One and Wave Three, working age adults (aged 16 to 64)
Source: Life Opportunities Survey - Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. All percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole number

Download chart

Figure 2.6: Impairment at both waves: impairment types reported at Wave One and Wave Three, adults aged 65 and over

Figure 2.6: Impairment at both waves: impairment types reported at Wave One and Wave Three, adults aged 65 and over
Source: Life Opportunities Survey - Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. All percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole number
  2. 0 - Less than 0.5 per cent, including none

Download chart

Figure 2.7: Impairment at both waves: impairment types reported at Wave Three, by age

Figure 2.7: Impairment at both waves: impairment types reported at Wave Three, by age
Source: Life Opportunities Survey - Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. All percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole number
  2. 0 - Less than 0.5 per cent, including none

Download chart

Notes for 2.4 Impairment types reported at Wave Three by adults with an impairment at both waves

  1. Chronic conditions are defined as long-term conditions that have lasted or are expected to last 12 months or more and that have been diagnosed by a health professional. These include but are not limited to: Asthma or severe allergies; Heart condition or disease; Kidney condition or disease; Cancer; Diabetes; Epilepsy; Cerebral Palsy; Spina Bifida; Cystic Fibrosis; Muscular Dystrophy; Migraines; Arthritis or rheumatism; Multiple Sclerosis (MS) ; Paralysis of any kind; Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD); and Depression.
  2. Wave Three included two additional categories to chronic health condition – Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and Depression.

2.5 Severity of impairment reported by adults with impairment at both waves

The severity of impairment can be assessed by looking at the level of difficulty1 and frequency of the limitation associated with the impairment. Tables 2.1 to 2.4 show the level of severity reported at Wave Three for the 4 most commonly-reported impairments by adults with impairment at both waves2 (long-term pain, chronic health conditions, mobility and dexterity). 

For all 4 impairment types, approximately two thirds of adults with an impairment at both waves reported moderate difficulty for that impairment. This was the same for working age adults and those aged 65 and over.

When considering the frequency of limitation, the majority of adults reported experiencing limitation "often" or "always". This was true for the 4 impairment types considered here, and for both age groups. A lower percentage of adults who had a long term pain impairment reported always experiencing limitation (34%) than those who had a chronic health condition (52%), mobility impairment (57%) and dexterity impairment (49%).

There was a slight variation by age for some of the conditions. Compared to adults of working age, a greater percentage of adults aged 65 and over with long-term pain and chronic health condition "always" experienced limitation. In contrast, a higher proportion of adults of working age who had a dexterity impairment reported "always" experiencing a limitation (54%) than adults aged 65 and over (42%).

Table 2.1: Impairment at both waves: severity of long-term pain at Wave Three, by age

Great Britain
Frequency of limitation (percentage)
  Rarely Sometimes Often Always Total Sample size (Number)
Level of pain1            
    Working age (16-64)            
    Moderate 9 27 13 14 62  
    Severe 1 8 10 18 38  
    Total 10 35 23 32   890
65 and over            
    Moderate 6 24 15 19 64  
    Severe 1 5 10 20 36  
    Total 6 29 26 39   660
All adults with an impairment at both waves            
    Moderate 8 26 14 16 62  
    Severe 1 7 10 19 38  
    Total 8 33 24 34   1550
 

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Level of pain for long-term pain is measured by the intensity of pain – “mild”, “moderate”, or “severe”. Under the LOS definition, those who reported “moderate” or “severe” levels of pain, and rated the frequency of limitation as “rarely” or above were identified as having long-term pain.
  2. All percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole number.
  3. Sample sizes have been rounded independently to the nearest 10.

Download table

Table 2.2: Impairment at both waves: severity of chronic health condition at Wave Three, by age

Great Britain
Frequency of limitation (percentage)
  Rarely Sometimes Often Always Total Sample size (Number)
Level of difficulty1            
    Working age (16-64)            
    Moderate difficulty 3 20 20 19 62  
    Severe difficulty 1 4 5 29 38  
Total 3 24 25 48   570
    65 and over            
    Moderate difficulty 1 19 17 24 62  
    Severe difficulty 0 1 3 34 38  
Total 1 21 20 58   470
    All adults with an impairment at both waves            
    Moderate difficulty 2 20 19 21 62  
    Severe difficulty 0 3 4 31 38  
    Total 2 23 23 52   1040

Table notes:

  1. Response categories for level of difficulty: 1. “No Difficulty”; 2. “Mild Difficulty”; 3. Moderate Difficulty 4; “Severe Difficulty”; and 5. “Cannot Do”; For some impairment types (chronic condition, breathing, learning, intellectual, behavioural, memory, and mental impairments), the levels range from 1 to 4.
  2. All percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole number.
  3. Sample sizes have been rounded independently to the nearest 10.
  4. 0 - Less than 0.5 per cent, including none.

Download table

Table 2.3: Impairment at both waves: severity of mobility impairment at Wave Three, by age

Frequency of limitation (percentage)
  Rarely Sometimes Often Always Total Sample size (Number)
Level of difficulty1            
    Working age (16-64)            
    Moderate difficulty 1 11 23 28 63  
    Severe difficulty .. 2 5 29 36  
    Cannot do 0 .. 0 0 ..  
    Total 2 13 28 57   360
65 and over            
    Moderate difficulty 1 16 18 28 63  
    Severe difficulty 0 2 5 27 35  
    Cannot do 0 0 0 2 2  
    Total 1 19 23 57   440
All adults with an impairment at both waves            
    Moderate difficulty 1 14 20 28 63  
    Severe difficulty .. 2 5 28 36  
    Cannot do 0 .. 0 1 1  
    Total 1 16 26 57   800

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Response categories for level of difficulty: 1. “No Difficulty”; 2. “Mild Difficulty”; 3. Moderate Difficulty 4; “Severe Difficulty”; and 5. “Cannot Do”; For some impairment types (chronic condition, breathing, learning, intellectual, behavioural, memory, and mental impairments), the levels range from 1 to 4.
  2. .. - Cells have been suppressed due to small cell counts.
  3. All percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole number.
  4. Sample sizes have been rounded independently to the nearest 10.
  5. 0 - Less than 0.5 per cent, including none.

Download table

Table 2.4: Impairment at both waves: severity of dexterity impairment at Wave Three, by age

Great Britain
Frequency of limitation (percentage)
  Rarely Sometimes Often Always Total Sample Size (Number)
Level of difficulty1            
    Working Age (16-64)            
    Moderate difficulty 0 20 19 22 61  
    Severe difficulty 0 2 6 30 38  
    Cannot do 0 0 0 1 1  
    Total 0 22 24 54   200
65 and Over            
    Moderate difficulty 3 29 14 21 68  
    Severe difficulty 0 4 7 19 30  
    Cannot do 0 0 0 1 2  
    Total 3 33 22 42   180
All Onset-acquired            
    Moderate difficulty 1 24 17 22 64  
    Severe difficulty 0 3 6 25 35  
    Cannot do 0 0 0 1 2  
    Total 1 27 23 49   380

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Response categories for level of difficulty: 1. “No Difficulty”; 2. “Mild Difficulty”; 3. Moderate Difficulty 4; “Severe Difficulty”; and 5. “Cannot Do”; For some impairment types (chronic condition, breathing, learning, intellectual, behavioural, memory, and mental impairments), the levels range from 1 to 4.
  2. All percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole number.
  3. Sample sizes have been rounded independently to the nearest 10.
  4. 0 - less than 0.5 per cent, including none.

Download table

Notes for 2.5 Severity of impairment reported by adults with impairment at both waves

  1. The response categories for level of difficulty were: 1. “No Difficulty”; 2. “Mild Difficulty”; 3. “Moderate Difficulty” 4; “Severe Difficulty”; and 5. “Cannot Do”; For some impairment types (chronic condition, breathing, learning, intellectual, behavioural, memory, and mental health impairments), the levels ranged from 1 to 4. For pain, the level of pain was measured by the intensity of the pain experienced: 1.”Mild”; 2.”Moderate”; 3. “Severe”.
  2. Analysis in Tables 2.1 to 2.4 is based upon only adults who reported the same impairment at both waves.

2.6 Offset rates for adults who did not report any impairment at Wave Three

Offset rates show the percentage of adults who have changed from reporting at least 1 impairment at Wave One to no longer reporting an impairment at Wave Three. The differences in offset rates reflect the differences in age group and number of impairments (as illustrated in Figure 2.3). The rates for the different groups in the population are based on their Wave One demographic characteristics: sex, age, ethnic group, region, tenure, education and occupation.

Overall, around a third of adults who had an impairment at Wave One did not have an impairment at Wave Three. Table 2.5 shows that offset rates for men and women are similar (35% and 33%). In general, the rates suggest that the likelihood of offsetting from impairment decreases with age. For example, around half of adults aged 16 to 24 who reported at least 1 impairment at Wave One had no impairments at Wave Three. In contrast, less than a fifth of adults aged 75 and over who reported at least 1 impairment at Wave One no longer reported any impairment at Wave Three. Overall, the offset rate is higher for working age (16 to 64) people, than for those 65 and over.

Age appears to be an important factor influencing the rate of offsetting rather than other demographic characteristics reported (see Table 2.6). The type of impairment experienced at Wave One may also influence an individual’s experience.  We turn to this in the next section.

Table 2.5: Offset: offset rates by sex, age, ethnicity and region of residence at Wave One, and by age

Great Britain
Offset Rate (percentage)
  Working Age (16-64) 65 and over Total
Sex      
  Male 40 24 35
  Female 40 20 33
           
Age      
  16 to 24 50 n/a 50
  25 to 44 43 n/a 43
  45 to 64 36 n/a 36
  65 to 74 n/a 26 26
  75 and over n/a 18 18
           
  Working age 40 n/a 40
  65 and over n/a 22 22
           
Ethnicity      
  White 40 22 34
  Non-white 38 22 36
           
Region      
  England 40 22 34
    North East (inc. Yorkshire and Humber) 37 21 32
    North West (inc. Merseyside) 37 17 31
    East Midlands 42 27 37
    West Midlands 42 24 36
    East of England 44 24 38
    London 39 19 34
    South East 45 23 37
    South West 38 20 32
  Wales 34 16 27
  Scotland 38 26 35
           
  Urban 39 21 33
  Rural 44 23 36

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. All percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole number.
  2. n/a - Not Applicable.
  3. See Appendix 1 for sample sizes.

Download table

Table 2.6: Offset: offset rates by tenure, highest qualification and NS-SEC at Wave One, and by age

Great Britain
Offset Rate (percentage)
  Working Age (16-64) 65 and over Total
Tenure      
  Own it outright 43 25 33
  Buying it with the help of a mortgage or loan 48 20 46
  Pay part rent and part mortgage (shared ownership) [46] .. [44]
  Rent it 32 13 27
  Live here rent free [31] [30] 30
         
Highest qualification      
  Degree level qualification (or equivalent) 49 36 48
  Higher educational qualification below degree level 47 35 46
  A-levels or Highers 54 [27] 52
  ONC National Level BTEC 42 [47] 42
  O Level or GCSE equivalent (Grade A-C) 38 35 38
  GCSE grade D-G or CSE grade 2-5 or Standard Grade level 4-6 44 [22] 43
  Other qualifications (including foreign qualifications) 41 29 39
  No formal qualifications 24 17 23
         
Socio-economic classification (based on occupation)      
  Higher managerial, administrative and professional 49 24 41
  Intermediate occupations 38 21 32
  Small employers and own account workers 44 21 36
  Lower supervisory and technical occupations 43 18 33
  Semi-routine and routine occupations 36 22 31

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Qualifications were asked of those aged 16 to 69.
  2. Socio-economic classification is based on current occupation. Occupation was also aksed of those who are not currenly employed but had last worked within the past eight years.
  3. .. - Cells have been suppressed due to small cell counts.
  4. [ ] - Figures should be used with extra caution because they are based on fewer than 30 reporting individuals.
  5. All percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole number.
  6. See Appendix 1 for sample sizes.

Download table

2.7 Offset rates of impairment types

Offset rates can be calculated for a range of impairment types. Table 2.7 shows the offset rate of impairment types for adults who reported an impairment at Wave One but no longer reported any impairment at Wave Three1. For all impairment types offset may be due to an absence of impairment at Wave Three, a change in the perception of the impairment, or a change in treatment received for the impairment.

Looking at the overall offset rates for impairments, the highest offset rate was for long-term pain (31%). This perhaps reflects the fluctuating nature of long-term pain – as seen in section 2.5, a lower percentage of adults who had long term pain impairment experienced limitation "always" or "often" than those who had other impairments.

"Sight" has a relatively high offset rate. A previous LOS report found that the majority of adults who offset from a sight impairment offset to "mild", that is, they still had a sight condition but it only caused them mild difficulty.

Adults aged 65 and over were less likely to offset from a number of impairment types than those aged 16 to 64, including chronic health condition, long-term pain and dexterity.

Table 2.7: Offset: offset rates by impairment types, and by age

Great Britain
Offset rate (percentage)
Impairment types Working Age (16-64) 65 and over Total
Mobility 12 11 11
Dexterity 17 12 15
Speaking 17 [0] 14
Intellectual .. .. 3
Breathing 17 11 15
Memory 17 12 16
Behavioural 17 .. 17
Mental health condition 24 17 23
Chronic  health condition 25 14 21
Other impairment 24 17 22
Hearing 32 20 25
Sight 37 15 27
Learning 28 8 26
Long-term pain 37 18 31

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. .. - Cells have been suppressed due to small cell counts.
  2. [ ] - Figures should be used with extra caution because they are based on fewer than 30 reporting individuals.
  3. All percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole number.
  4. 0 - Less than 0.5 per cent, including none.

Download table

Notes for 2.7 Offset rates of impairment types

  1. Adults with impairment at both waves can also experience an offset of a specific impairment; these adults are not included in this analysis.

2.8 Onset rates for adults who did not report any impairment at Wave One

This section looks at the onset rates for adults who did not have an impairment at Wave One but reported at least 1 impairment at Wave Three. These adults are known as "onset-acquired"1. The onset rate is the percentage of all adults without any impairment at Wave One, who became onset-acquired at Wave Three.

Almost a fifth of adults who did not have an impairment at Wave One reported an impairment at Wave Three – the overall "onset" rate was 18%. As can be seen in Table 2.8, onset rates increased with age, with those aged 65 and over around twice as likely to onset as working age adults. This is in line with what was found in Section 2.6, where adults were less likely to offset as they age.

Table 2.9 shows the onset rates for different demographic characteristics of the population including tenure, education and occupation. As was found with offset rates, age appears to be an important factor influencing the rate of onsetting, rather than other demographic characteristics. For many of the characteristics, adults aged 65 and over were more likely than working age adults to onset.

Table 2.8: Onset rates by sex, ethnicity and region of residence at Wave One, and by age

Great Britain
Onset Rate(percentage)
  Working Age (16-64) 65 and over Total
Sex      
  Male 14 28 16
  Female 17 33 20
           
Age      
  16 to 24 10 n/a 10
  25 to 44 16 n/a 16
  45 to 64 17 n/a 17
  65 to 74 n/a 24 24
  75 and over n/a 41 41
           
  Working age 15 n/a 15
  65 and over n/a 30 30
           
Ethnicity      
  White 15 30 17
  Non-white 20 29 21
           
Region      
  England 16 30 18
    North East (inc. Yorkshire and Humber) 16 33 18
    North West (inc. Merseyside) 15 33 18
    East Midlands 14 29 16
    West Midlands 10 29 13
    East of England 21 27 22
    London 21 29 22
    South East 12 33 16
    South West 15 24 17
  Wales 13 38 17
  Scotland 12 29 15
           
  Urban 16 31 18
  Rural 14 28 17

Table notes:

  1. All percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole number.
  2. n/a - Not applicable.
  3. See Appendix 1 for sample sizes.

Download table

Table 2.9: Onset rates by tenure, highest qualification[1] and NS-SEC[2] at Wave One, and by age

Great Britain
Onset Rate (percentage)
  Working Age (16-64) 65 and over Total
Tenure      
  Own it outright 15 28 20
  Buying it with the help of a mortgage or loan 13 26 13
  Pay part rent and part mortgage (shared ownership) [22] .. [26]
  Rent it   20 41 22
  Live here rent free   [7] [51] 20
           
Highest qualification      
  Degree level qualification (or equivalent) 12 19 13
  Higher educational qualification below degree level 17 19 17
  A-levels or Highers 13 [21] 13
  ONC National Level BTEC 13 [34] 13
  O Level or GCSE equivalent (Grade A-C) 16 17 16
  GCSE grade D-G or CSE grade 2-5 or Standard Grade level 4-6 24 [14] 23
  Other qualifications (including foreign qualifications) 14 20 15
  No formal qualifications 23 26 24
           
Socio-economic classification (based on occupation)      
  Higher managerial, administrative and professional 14 27 16
  Intermediate occupations 14 33 18
  Small employers and own account workers 15 23 16
  Lower supervisory and technical occupations 21 36 24
  Semi-routine and routine occupations 18 33 21

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Qualifications were asked of those aged 16 to 69.
  2. Socio-economic classification is based on current occupation. Occupation was also asked of those who are not currently employed but had last worked within the past eight years.
  3. .. - Cells have been suppressed due to small cell counts.
  4. [ ] - Figures should be used with extra caution because they are based on fewer than 30 reporting individuals.
  5. All percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole number.
  6. See Appendix 1 for sample sizes.

Download table

Notes for 2.8 Onset rates for adults who did not report any impairment at Wave One

  1. Due to the longitudinal survey design there is a potential measurement bias in the onset rate reported by the LOS. A differential onset rate was identified at Wave Two between cases identified through the telephone screener, and those identified within face to face sample (that is, from the "control group" or co-residents of adults with impairments). The weighting method developed for the survey has been designed to adjust for this under estimation, but it should be noted that some bias may remain.

2.9 Onset rates of impairment types

This section looks at the percentage of all people without any impairment at Wave One, who then reported a specific impairment type at Wave Three1. It considers onset rates by impairment type.

The impairment type which had the highest onset rate for all adults was long-term pain (9.2%). We saw in Section 2.7 that long-term pain also has the highest offset rate of the impairment types considered on the LOS. This may suggest that long-term pain fluctuates.

For all impairment types, with the exception of mental health condition, the onset rate was higher for those aged 65 and over than for working age adults (see Table 2.10). The onset rate for long-term pain for adults aged 65 and over was almost twice that for working age adults; for chronic health condition it was around 3 times that of working age adults and for mobility it was around 9 times that of working age adults. For all adults the 4 impairment types with the highest rates were chronic health condition, mobility, long-term pain and mental health condition.

For working age adults, mental health condition impairment onset rate was slightly higher (1.9%) compared to adults aged 65 and over (1.0). For adults aged 65 hearing was in the top 4 onset rates, while for working age adults the onset rate for hearing was low.

Table 2.10: Onset-acquired: onset rates by impairment type, and by age

Great Britain
Onset rate (percentage)
Impairment types Working Age (16-64) 65 and over Total
Intellectual .. 0.2 0.1
Speaking 0.1 0.3 0.1
Behavioural 0.2 0.3 0.2
Other impairment 0.4 0.7 0.4
Learning 1.3 .. 1.1
Memory 0.8 3.2 1.2
Breathing 1.2 3.1 1.5
Hearing 0.8 5.0 1.5
Mental health condition 1.9 1.0 1.8
Sight 1.0 4.1 1.5
Dexterity 1.0 4.5 1.5
Mobility 1.3 9.4 2.5
Chronic health condition 4.6 12.8 5.9
Long-term pain 8.3 14.2 9.2
Sample size (Number) 4,120 1,850 5,970

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. .. - Cells have been suppressed due to small cell counts.
  2. All percentages have been rounded to the nearest 0.1.
  3. Sample sizes have been rounded independently to the nearest 10.

Download table

Notes for 2.9 Onset rates of impairment types

  1. Analysis in this section has been restricted to looking at the onset rates for onset-acquired adults. Adults with impairment at both waves can also experience an onset of an additional specific impairment; these adults are not included in this analysis.

2.10 Impairment types reported by adults at Wave Three – onset-acquired impairment

For adults who did not report an impairment at Wave One but reported at least one impairment at Wave Three, the 4 most commonly reported impairment types overall at Wave Three were long-term pain, chronic health condition1, mobility and mental health condition2 (see Figure 2.8). The pattern of impairment types experienced by all onset-acquired adults at Wave Three was very similar to that experienced by adults with impairments at both waves (see Figure 2.4).

There appears to be an association between age and certain impairment types. Adults aged 65 and over were more likely to report chronic health condition, mobility, dexterity, memory, sight and hearing impairments than those aged 16 to 64. These impairment types may generally be associated with ageing.

In contrast, adults aged 65 and over were less likely to report a mental health condition. While a smaller proportion of adults aged 65 and over reported long-term pain than those aged 16 to 64, this difference was not found to be statistically significant.

Figure 2.8: Onset-acquired: impairment types reported at Wave Three

Figure 2.8: Onset-acquired: impairment types reported at Wave Three
Source: Life Opportunities Survey - Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. All percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole number
  2. 0 - Less than 0.5 per cent, including none

Download chart

Figure 2.9: Onset-acquired: impairment types reported at Wave Three, by age

Figure 2.9: Onset-acquired: impairment types reported at Wave Three, by age
Source: Life Opportunities Survey - Office for National Statistics

Notes:

  1. .. - Cells have been supressed due to small cell counts
  2. All percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole number
  3. 0 - Less than 0.5 per cent, including none

Download chart

Notes for 2.10 Impairment types reported by adults at Wave Three – onset-acquired impairment

  1. Chronic conditions are defined as long-term conditions that have lasted or are expected to last 12 months or more and that have been diagnosed by a health professional. These include but are not limited to: Asthma or severe allergies; Heart condition or disease; Kidney condition or disease; Cancer; Diabetes; Epilepsy; Cerebral Palsy; Spina Bifida; Cystic Fibrosis; Muscular Dystrophy; Migraines; Arthritis or rheumatism; Multiple Sclerosis (MS) ; Paralysis of any kind; Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD); and Depression.
  2. The percentages may sum to more than 100 as respondents were able to report more than one impairment.

2.11 Severity of impairment reported by adults at Wave Three - onset-acquired impairment

Tables 2.11 to 2.14 show the 4 most commonly reported impairments by adults who onset:  long-term pain, chronic health condition, mobility, and dexterity. In general, adults who were not impaired at Wave One but reported an impairment at Wave Three (onset-acquired), rated the severity of their impairments as low in terms of both the level ("moderate") and the frequency ("rarely" or "sometimes") of the limitation they experienced.

For long-term pain and chronic health condition, similar percentages of adults of working age and adults aged 65 and over reported moderate or severe difficulty. The percentages reporting severe difficulty for mobility impairments was higher for working age adults (26% compared to 14%). Percentages of working age adults reporting severe difficulty were also higher for dexterity impairments (26% compared to 16%).

Table 2.11: Onset-acquired: severity of long-term pain at Wave Three, by age

Great Britain
Frequency of limitation (percentage)
  Rarely Sometimes Often Always Total Sample Size (Number)
Level of pain1            
Working Age (16-64)            
    Moderate 18 43 8 4 72  
    Severe 5 14 5 4 28  
    Total 23 57 12 7   480
65 and Over            
    Moderate 9 44 13 9 75  
    Severe 3 8 9 5 25  
    Total 12 52 21 15   290
All Onset-acquired            
    Moderate 16 43 9 5 73  
    Severe 5 12 6 4 27  
    Total 21 56 14 9   770
 

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Level of pain for long-term pain is measured by the intensity of pain – “mild”, “moderate”, or “severe”. Under the LOS definition, those who reported “moderate” or “severe” levels of pain, and rated the frequency of limitation as “rarely” or above were identified as having long-term pain.
  2. All percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole number.
  3. Sample sizes have been rounded independently to the nearest 10.

Download table

Table 2.12: Onset-acquired: severity of chronic health condition at Wave Three, by age

Great Britain
Frequency of Limitation (percentage)
  Rarely Sometimes Often Always Total Sample Size (Number)
Level of difficulty1            
Working Age (16-64)            
    Moderate difficulty 13 34 14 14 76  
    Severe difficulty 2 7 3 11 24  
    Total 16 42 18 25   270
65 and over            
    Moderate difficulty 8 39 18 15 80  
    Severe difficulty 3 5 4 8 20  
    Total 10 44 22 23   250
All Onset-acquired            
    Moderate difficulty 11 36 16 14 77  
    Severe difficulty 2 7 3 10 23  
    Total 14 42 19 24   520

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Response categories for level of difficulty: 1. “No Difficulty”; 2. “Mild Difficulty”; 3. “Moderate Difficulty”; 4. “Severe Difficulty”; and 5. “Cannot do”; For some impairment types (chronic condition, breathing, learning, intellectual, behavioural, memory and mental impairments), the levels range from 1 to 4. For pain, the level of pain is measured by the intensity of the pain experienced: 1”Mild”; 2.”Moderate”; 3. “Severe”.
  2. All percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole number.
  3. Sample sizes have been rounded independently to the nearest 10.

Download table

Table 2.13: Onset-acquired: severity of mobility impairment at Wave Three, by age

Great Britain
Frequency of Limitation (percentage)
  Rarely Sometimes Often Always Total Sample Size (Number)
Level of difficulty1            
Working Age (16-64)            
    Moderate difficulty .. 20 28 26 74  
    Severe difficulty 0 3 .. 21 26  
    Cannot do1 0 0 0 0 0  
    Total .. 23 29 47   90
65 and over            
    Moderate difficulty 2 37 22 25 85  
    Severe difficulty .. 1 1 11 14  
    Cannot do 0 0 0 .. ..  
    Total 2 38 23 37   200
All Onset-acquired            
    Moderate difficulty 1 29 24 25 80  
    Severe difficulty .. 2 1 15 19  
    Cannot do 0 0 0 .. ..  
    Total 1 31 26 41   280

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Response categories for level of difficulty: 1. “No Difficulty”; 2. “Mild Difficulty”; 3. “Moderate Difficulty”; 4. “Severe Difficulty”; and 5. “Cannot do”; For some impairment types (chronic condition, breathing, learning, intellectual, behavioural, memory and mental impairments), the levels range from 1 to 4. For pain, the level of pain is measured by the intensity of the pain experienced: 1”Mild”; 2.”Moderate”; 3. “Severe”.
  2. .. - Cells have been suppressed due to small cell counts.
  3. All percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole number.
  4. Sample sizes have been rounded independently to the nearest 10.
  5. 0 - Less than 0.5%, including none.

Download table

Table 2.14: Onset-acquired: severity of dexterity impairment at Wave Three, by age

Great Britain
Frequency of Limitation (percentage)
  Rarely Sometimes Often Always Total Sample Size (Number)
Level of difficulty1            
Working Age (16-64)            
    Moderate difficulty 7 27 28 13 74  
    Severe difficulty 0 .. 4 20 26  
    Total 7 29 32 33   60
65 and over            
    Moderate difficulty 8 39 25 13 84  
    Severe difficulty .. .. 4 9 16  
    Total 9 40 29 22   90
All Onset- acquired            
    Moderate difficulty 7 32 26 13 79  
    Severe difficulty .. 2 4 15 21  
    Total 8 34 30 28   150

Table source: Office for National Statistics

Table notes:

  1. Response categories for level of difficulty: 1. “No Difficulty”; 2. “Mild Difficulty”; 3. “Moderate Difficulty”; 4. “Severe Difficulty”; and 5. “Cannot do”; For some impairment types (chronic condition, breathing, learning, intellectual, behavioural, memory and mental impairments), the levels range from 1 to 4.
  2. .. - Cells have been suppressed due to small cell counts.
  3. All percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole number.
  4. Sample sizes have been rounded independently to the nearest 10.
  5. 0 - Less than 0.5%, including none.

Download table

Background notes

  1. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/assessment/code-of-practice/index.html or from the Media Relations Office email: media.relations@ons.gsi.gov.uk

Get all the tables for this publication in the data section of this publication .
Content from the Office for National Statistics.
© Crown Copyright applies unless otherwise stated.